The distance class : less is more (Part 2)


By August 30, 2023

How long should a distance class last?

Can we keep the 50-minute lessons or should we offer shorter durations … supplemented by home work? Those who experience extreme teleworking these days know the fatigue generated and the concentration required by repetitive videoconferences, more or less organized and with very variable durations.

The distance class cannot be a perfect copy of the physical class. The teacher and student’s ability to concentrate is not the same. They need breaths, moments of escape.

Less is more

Today with digital, you have to learn to do less, better, shorter.

The teacher must be convinced of his ability to easily create lessons for the distance class without duplicating those he had for the traditional class. Simple advice: Do as usual! Prepare your lesson before giving it on a virtual platform! This advice seems trivial. It’s not that much.

Each online lesson should last a maximum of 30 minutes. To the teacher, the motivating and explanatory work to be done in class: “the teacher is the guide”. To the students that want to go deeper, complementary work to be done “at home.”

Our recommendation

4 lessons per day;

4 x 30 minutes;

2 in the morning and 2 in the afternoon for example.

Between each lesson, a break to refresh, “disconnect”, review what we have just seen.

So do only during the lesson what you feel you can do in 30 minutes.

Go straight to the point. Choose.

A lesson is “a minimum” but containing the essentials: clearly stated objectives, basic points well summarized, some dynamic activities. The rest, everything else, can be the subject of an additional email or a file shared on the school’s digital workspace.

There are simple guidelines to do the preparatory work: create a simple word document, divide the sheet into 5 blocks; one 10-minute block (reserved for teaching content) and four 5-minute blocks.

– Assign activity to each block of 5 minutes to be done in class;

– Select for each activity an introductory element (image, video, text, sound file).

– Keep the word document and these items in a folder on your computer.

– When you have to create the lesson on a virtual platform, use this folder.



 Block 1

 5 minutes  – a video

 Block 2

 10 minutes – the core of the lesson

 Block 3

 5 minutes – an exercise

 Block 4

 5 minutes – a quizz

 Block 5

 5 minutes – an assessment poll and next steps

Interactive and synchronous teaching

We have no other choice than the distance class? So let’s also make it interactive. Let’s address the challenge of synchronous education where everyone – teacher and students – connect at the same time, as in real class.

Synchronous teaching requires tools. That’s a good news! There are plenty!

Learning does not consist in seeing your students in full screen. Imagine a teacher 50 centimeters away from each of his students, feeling their breath, blowing in their face!

Learning is first and foremost the art of distance, the art of knowing how to use pedagogical supports wisely and to animate the discussion on subjects that require a specific approach and address challenging issues!

In a visioconference, the teacher scrolls through a powerpoint presentation – prepared in advance – by moving from one slide to another according to the time allotted for the lesson. It is therefore an imported pedagogy.

The particularity of a lesson on the contrary is that it is part of a dynamic process. Students need to know more at the end than at the beginning. They all go from point a to point b. We must therefore ensure that this progression takes place.


Both individual and collective assessment is essential. The online class cannot afford to lose students on the way, to leave out those who do not understand quickly enough.

A simple online survey with a single question allows us to move forward in a coordinated way: “Did we understand what we have just learned? Yes or no?”

Depending on the answer, the teacher will decide whether to go back on what he thought he had acquired and whether he should do it during this lesson or the next.

For online assessment, there are tools – questionnaires – of all kinds that allow you to test remotely with more or less simple questions if the lesson meets the objectives set for learning.

(To be followed)

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